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AMA Physicians Send a Message to Congress: Stop Medicare Meltdown

Physicians at AMA Annual Meeting Sign White Lab Coats to be Delivered to Congressional Offices

For immediate release:
June 13, 2010

CHICAGO - Physicians are so outraged about the impact of a 21 percent Medicare cut on seniors' health care that they're sending members of Congress their white lab coats, signed at an event called the "Write Coat Rally" today at the American Medical Association's (AMA) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

"AMA physicians are sending signed white lab coats to their members of Congress as a symbolic, visible reminder that action is desperately needed to avert a Medicare meltdown through repeal of the broken Medicare physician payment system," said AMA President J. James Rohack, MD. "The Senate's failure to act before June 1 made the 21 percent cut the law of the land, and this week Medicare's temporary hold on claims expires. Physicians will start seeing a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments this week that will hurt seniors' health care as physicians are forced to make practice changes to keep their practice doors open."

A new AMA flyer is now available for physicians to share with their own patients to urge them to contact their Senators. Concerned Americans can get involved in the AMA's Patients Action Network and reach their members of Congress directly at 1-888-434-6200. Physicians can participate in a virtual "Write Coat Rally" by calling their members of Congress at 1-800-833-6354.

Results of a new online survey of 9,000 physicians who care for Medicare patients confirms that seniors are already being hurt by Congress' Medicare mismanagement. About one in five physicians (17%) say they have already been forced to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice. Nearly one-third of primary care physicians (31%) have already been forced to limit care to Medicare patients. The top two reasons physicians gave for these actions were the ongoing threat of future cuts and the fact that Medicare payment rates were already too low. Current Medicare payment rates are about where they were in 2001 while medical practice costs have increased twenty percent.

"Physicians want to care for seniors, but multiple short-term delays have created severe instability for physician practices nationwide," said Dr. Rohack. "This is no way to run a major health insurance program. It's time for Congress to fix the problem once and for all to preserve seniors' health care and ensure the success of new initiatives to improve the health system. Nine times in eight years Congress has delayed the cut, which has grown the problem to astronomical heights. It's akin to putting the tab on a credit card without ever paying off the balance and watching the price tag grow. Now the bill is due: Congress created this problem; now they need to fix it. It's time to stop increasing the cost of reform to taxpayers and the size of the cut through repeal of the broken payment formula."


For more information, please contact:

AMA Meeting Pressroom: 312-239-4991

Brenda L. Craine
Director, AMA Media Relations

Katherine Hatwell
AMA Media Relations